It now looks like turnout is going to be high, which helps Democrats. Normally about 60 percent of the voters cast ballots in a major election, and it's lucky to get to 40 percent in off-years like this one. Well, we're going to hit 40 percent, and the late surge normally means Democrats are getting off their duffs. One shrewd vote-watcher, Steve Finley, projects 770,000 votes in King County, up from 637,000 in the last midterm, 2006. (The Obama year of 2008 had 930,000 in King.) Liberal causes have to do very well in King to overcome the rest of the state, and this turnout could indicate they will.
Reinforcing the high turnout is the growing narrative that Washington is the "new Florida," a game-changing state, at least as regards the U.S. Senate. The Rossi-Murray race is extremely tight, with the polling momentum going to the Republican. With so much at stake nationally, still more folks will be roused to vote. My guess is that breaks in the Democrats' favor, if not for Murray then on down the ballot.
Another late-breaking narrative is the self-destructive behavior of some of the Tea Party Republicans: a Rand Paul supporter stomping the head of a liberal protester (on video); Alaska's hapless Joe Miller forced to admit his lying about an earlier misconduct here on the eve of the election (don't put these admissions off, Joe!); Sharron Angle's racist ads in Nevada. As these mount up, they give independents pause about throwing out rascals if you're getting such a zoo in exchange.
So, a rebound day for the Blue Team. One exception is the reappearance of Gov. Gregoire, who is going to make an announcement about bids on the Seattle waterfront tunnel. As I write this, I don't know if she has good news or bad, but the point is Gregoire has been lying low during the election, for good reason, and here on the last weekend she's in the headlines.
Just as Obama enables the Republicans to nationalize the race and incumbents like Patty Murray want to make it all about local issues and the benefits they have brought home, so in the legislative races nobody wants to "Evergreenize" the issues by reminding folks of Gregoire's failure to rein in spending, stand up to Speaker Frank Chopp, save schools and universities, etc. So she has been largely invisible, off taking trade mission trips. And regardless of the news on the tunnel contract, it reminds folks of how long, O Lord, we have been debating this sucker. Get the hook!
The other unwelcome bit of news for incumbents and U.S. Senators is the report that the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area outpaced all other metropolitan regions in the rate of growth of foreclosures. Wasn't all that panicky legislating in Congress supposed to fix this by now?
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